Chris Molnar's Reviews > Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing

Working by Robert A. Caro
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it was amazing

This is an odds-and-ends collection that functions as a brief Making Of documentary companion to his epic (and essential) Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson biographies. The recent New Yorker excerpt is essentially a more narrative alternate version, seamlessly combining information from many of the brief essays into one continuous story. The book is more scattered and not as elegant, but all the additional information is equally fascinating and a real tease for whatever extended memoir he's working on. You see his unflashy yet profound belief in the power of "researching, interviewing and writing" in action, watching with him as a breakthrough with a subject or source material reveals the hidden crucial moments that change everything.

There is something just as moving about watching Robert Caro in the process of sketching Moses' or Johnson's unparalleled ability to create and destroy as reading the finished product. Powerful political figures like them may shape our world, but it is writers like Caro who demystify them, who give the downtrodden a voice, who identify the ephemeral and arbitrary sources of power, of timeless possibility, and of the original sin baked into the American and by extension human experience. Usually I read fiction, and part of what appeals to me about Caro's work is how it articulates better than anything why writing is important, as important as any kind of politics. In the biographies that is shown by implication, but here it is explicit.

This quote might sum it up - "While I am aware that there is no Truth, no single truth, no truth simple or unsimple, either; no verity, eternal or otherwise; no Truth about anything, there are Facts, objective facts, discernible and verifiable. And the more facts you accumulate, the closer you come to whatever truth there is. And finding facts - through reading documents or through interviewing and re-interviewing - can't be rushed; it takes time. Truth takes time."
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Reading Progress

January 30, 2019 – Started Reading
January 30, 2019 – Shelved
February 9, 2019 – Finished Reading

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